Selecting a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM) system is a significant investment for any organization. These critical business systems impact nearly every department and process, so choosing the right solution is essential. Yet, with so many options on the market, how can you thoroughly review potential platforms and help ensure the best fit for your organization’s unique needs? This is where conducting structured technology assessments comes in.
In this article, we’ll explore what technology assessments are, why they’re valuable for major software purchases. In addition, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide to conducting an effective assessment during your ERP or CRM selection process.
What Are Technology Assessments?
A technology assessment is a systematic review of a software solution. It analyzes the technical capabilities, features, integrations, and overall fit of a technology platform for an organization’s specific requirements. Assessments enable deeply informed software selection by:
- Identifying organizational needs, challenges, and requirements
- Researching solution options and collecting detailed information
- Objectively comparing solutions against criteria
- Validating vendor qualifications through demos and discussions
- Providing comparative data to inform selection decisions
For complex and business-critical systems like ERP and CRM, assessments are invaluable for mitigating project risks and selecting the right long-term solution.
Why Conduct a Technology Assessment?
Investing in an ERP or CRM system requires significant time and resources. The costs extend beyond software licensing, including implementation, training, integration, and ongoing maintenance. That’s why adequately vetting systems and vendors beforehand is crucial.
Key benefits of conducting technology assessments include:
- Aligning software capabilities with business needs
- Validating vendor selection criteria
- Comparing solutions objectively beyond demos
- Identifying configuration needs and limitations
- Developing implementation requirements
- Estimating total cost of ownership accurately
- Reducing project risk and preventing issues down the road
For ERP and CRM projects, assessments especially lead to better software selection by focusing heavily on fit. This can mean the difference between deploying an adaptable solution that supports goals versus an ill-fitting system that hampers operations.
How to Conduct an Effective Technology Assessment
Now that we’ve covered the value of assessments, let’s explore the process for conducting one properly. Follow these recommended steps when assessing ERP and CRM systems:
- Define business requirements and priorities. First, detail your organizational needs and challenges. Define functional and technical requirements. Set criteria for comparing systems and determine weighted priorities. Involving key stakeholders helps develop a comprehensive list.
- Research software options and vendors. Identify vendors and solutions for consideration. Gather information on features, technology, and organizational fit. Develop a shortlist of preferred options.
- Issue RFPs and collect responses. Send detailed RFPs to shortlisted vendors to collect in-depth information. Schedule product demonstrations and Q&A sessions. Compile vendor responses for comparison.
- Perform hands-on solution testing. Go beyond demos by actually using the systems. Test real-life workflows and scenarios. Assess usability, functionality, and performance.
- Complete objective comparative analysis. With criteria defined, methodically assess each solution and document pros, cons, gaps, and pricing. Compare responses and rank options. Validate marketing claims against real-world testing.
- Compile assessment findings and recommendations. Summarize findings in a detailed report for stakeholders. Provide recommendations on the ideal software selection with rationale.
- Make an informed software selection. With a sound technology assessment complete, decision makers have the information required to confidently select the best-fit ERP or CRM system.
How FORVIS Can Help
Selecting an ERP or CRM platform without thoroughly vetting solutions against business needs is risky. Conducting research through in-depth technology assessments can help you thoroughly review potential platforms and identify the ideal fit for your unique requirements. Following a methodical process can help you select the ERP and CRM systems that align with your organization’s strategic goals, avoid downstream issues, and provide value for years to come.
Business Technology Solutions at FORVIS can provide thorough technology assessments as well as ERP and CRM implementation and support services. Connect with us to learn more.